BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee High School students Michael Kovalik and Sophia Garber have been named the valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2021.
According to MHS principal Matt Dick, the valedictorian and salutatorian are selected from a pool of students graduating in the top 5 percent of their class. A formula that awards points for ACT and PSAT scores, National Merit Scholar recognition, Advanced Placement and College Credit Plus participation as well as other academic achievements determines who the students are.
Both Michael, who is valedictorian and Sophia, who is the salutatorian, attended Maumee schools since kindergarten. Michael attended Fairfield Elementary, and Sophia attended Fort Miami before going to Gateway Middle School and MHS.
Michael is interested in a variety of subjects, such as sociology and psychology, but his favorite subjects are math and science.
“Things like calculus, physics and the programming classes are my favorite,” he said. “At first, I thought I was just good at math, but over the years, after working at it for so long, there is something that fascinates me about solving a problem.”
Sophia loves math, too, but she also enjoys orchestra, where she plays the viola.
They both credit math teacher Jene Drage and science teacher Terri Mortemore for having a substantial impact on their high school academics.
“They helped us become better students,” said Sophia. “They made it seem less of a chore to do work and more like something we wanted to do.”
The pandemic posed significant challenges over the past year, disrupting just about every aspect of the traditional high school experience. Despite that adversity, Sophia believes there is a silver lining.
“I got really used to being in school and being able to ask a teacher questions in person, so having to do it all online was a big step,” she said. “I think it helped in the long run being able to figure things out on my own.”
Michael and Sophia have kept busy schedules throughout their academic careers in Maumee.
Sophia was a class officer and a member of the National Honor Society. She participated in Interact, Link Crew, orchestra, student council and tennis.
If things become too stressful, they both like to hang out with their friends or get outside. Michael also enjoys reading and Sophia has taken family trips to several national parks. Both have enjoyed getting an education in Maumee.
“I honestly would not want to go anywhere else,” Sophia said. “This is such a welcoming school environment, and everyone is trying their best to help you be successful. I also like that it is smaller and easier to find your place then if it was a really big school.”
While Michael is happy to graduate from high school, he realizes that it is only one step in the educational process.
“It feels a lot better graduating from high school, but I know that I am going to go to college and it’s not going to change that much, except for maybe more independence,” he said.
Michael will take a gap year to gain experience and build his bank account before heading to college. He would ultimately like to attend Berkeley College or UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) to study either physics or mathematics.
Sophia plans to attend The Ohio State University to study mechanical engineering.
Michael has five siblings and is the son of David and Katherine Kovalik.
Sophia has one older sister and is the daughter of Vicky and Mike Garber.
The MHS graduation ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 29 at the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo.